Gun registration question

A relative has offered me two guns that are family heirlooms. One is a double-barrelled shotgun, one is a .22 rifle. Both are antique. I know very little about gun law. If I accept the offer, do I need to register them? Anything else legal I ought to know? If I take them, I’m not planning to use them (except after the revolution, when all bets are off). Thanks.

Depends on where you live. Some cities, some counties, some states require you to register your guns. There is no Federal requirement for registration, except for machineguns and the like.

ETA: Where specifically in the PNW are you?

Don’t ask, don’t tell. Take the guns, say thank you, and don’t tell the Gubmint anything. Neither of those firearms is on any “prohibited” list, and I am unaware of any requirements where you are located to register longarms.

Nothing of substance to add to Bear’s post, but I’ve heard people get “registration” and “background check” confused. Nationally a background check is required for any gun acquired through a FFL dealer, but not from a private party (greatly simplified - check your local laws for definitions of “private”, “party”, “dealer”, “from”, “not”, etc.)

My understanding is that “Antique” has a specific meaning under US Firearms Law, referring specifically to firearms made prior to January 1st, 1899.

Here’s the Wiki page on the subject, but I would strongly suggest you check your local laws to be safe.

How do you know the guns are antiques, out of curiosity?

IANAL. Assuming…

  1. you are in Multnomah county
  2. you are not a felon, ever been committed for mental health purposes, over 18
  3. your relative is not a gun dealer

… you don’t need to register or anything like that.

When I read the OP, I was thinking that many people assume old = antique.

Long guns (rifles, shotguns) are usually much less regulated that handguns. In many places there are no regulations on them at all beyond the usual brandishing/discharging laws that apply to all firearms.

Google your state and gun laws.

Thanks, everyone.

They’re guns that belonged to someone 4 generations before me.

I’m not sure if that would make them pre-1898, though (of course, it’s your family, so you’d be aware of the relevant ages; I’m just saying that 4 generations could be as little as 70 or 80 years).

If the guns are genuine antiques (as opposed to just “old”), then the shotgun is almost certainly NOT chambered for modern shotgun shells, unless it’s a relatively expensive make such as a W.W. Greener or a Holland & Holland.


Shotguns made up until about 1900 are typically chambered for black powder shotshells, and they often have Damascus Steel barrels. They are dangerously unsafe to fire with nitrocellulose-based (smokeless) powders, as the barrel cannot handle the pressures generated by modern cartridges when firing.

Thanks for the advice. We don’t plan to fire them.

Based on the ages and generations, 1899 would be a rather late estimate for these.